Whether we realise it or not, most people’s careers are reflections of themselves – their values, strengths, fears, weaknesses, egos; whatever mix of skills and experiences they have been born with and developed has brought them to a point where they are doing what they are now doing.
A recent study by Gallup revealed that 60% of employees are not engaged and 16% are disengaged at work. That is ¾ of employees, three out of four of your workmates! This is a major challenge not just for business owners and management but the productivity of the whole economy.
I sometimes refer to myself as an ‘amateur psychologist’ (not a particularly good one!) and after speaking to many, many people over the years about their career choices, I think where we choose to work comes down to these three key criteria:
Who you do it for & who with?
- “People join companies and leave managers” which supports the global statistic of 60 – 70% of employees leaving their jobs because of their relationship with their one up managers. Relationships are like see-saws and need to work both ways or it is just a matter of time before someone falls off or decides that they don’t want to play anymore.
- Culture within one’s immediate team is also crucial for someone deciding to stay with an organisation; Culture, as defined by Collins & Porras, is “…. the way we do things around here”. Either people enjoy this or they don’t, they are accepted or they are not, which can become a deciding factor in whether someone stays or goes.
- With 50 odd years of prosperity, hardly an economic downturn (statistically speaking) in the last 25 years leading to a stable workforce and a war for talent, employees have the right and ability to change jobs or careers if they don’t like who they work for or with. If companies wish to grow they’ll need to keep building their teams and retaining corporate memory or mismanagement / toxic cultures will see it walk out the door.
What you do & where?
- The tasks you perform are a combination of your basic skills, interests and maybe (if you are lucky) your passion. If you are good at something you will generally do it well and if you can’t, you won’t. Work encompasses a great deal of our waking hours so you may as well spend this time doing something you enjoy; Good leadership can make anything fun and likewise poor management can make what sounds like the most amazing experience, ordinary at best and suffocating at worst.
- Additionally, the location of your workplace is another key factor in deciding on where you work. My experience is that if you love what you do, time disappears and if you hate it, 15 minutes can seem like a life time.
- A wise friend of mine once said “…you live where you want to live; you work where you have to work”.
How much you get paid?
- I do not believe that the majority of people make their decision to stay in a business based on money, they will often use that as an excuse when they leave because it is easier than the hard or politically sensitive conversation around toxic personalities or culture. Often it is usually one of the other (above) issues that is present to make them “think” it is about the money and latch onto that as human nature prescribes. I have worked in several businesses over the years where staff have asked to return to their old job realising they had made mistakes. Thankfully the good companies I worked for were practical and broadminded enough to welcome them back so they have continued to prosper; the bad ones… well I left too and they are probably still wondering why they are losing the war for talent…..